Fifteen year old Leighton hates school, her home life, just about everything. Until one day she changes place with the girl in the mirror and realises just what she has given away. Finding Noah, a drifter just passing through until he finds what he's looking for, Leighton discovers that all is not what it seems. As she searches for a way home the distance between her reality and her existence grows dangerously apart.
The Other Side of The Mirror
Fate and Death skip hand in hand,
Along life's Merry Dance.
With time they sing a soulful tune,
With nothing left to chance.
And though life's dance will always cease,
The soul still carries on.
For when life's journey is at an end,
Death's Dance as just begun.
Time was ticking by very slowly, or maybe it just seemed slower looking at it from the wrong way round. Either way Leighton Mathews was becoming more agitated by the passing of every slow minute.
Sitting all alone on her bed with nothing but the tormenting hands of time as company she thought of how she had gotten in this mess and sighed. The old cliché of 'Be careful of what you wish for' seemed to ring loud in her ears.
Hearing the door slam and the familiar yet now disturbing vocals that she had heard herself say many times before echoed up the stairway. It was home. Moments later the bedroom door burst open and large smiles beamed her way as her reflection dropped the school bag carelessly on the floor to admire the image in the mirror before jumping ceremoniously onto the bed. Leighton felt the vibrations beneath her.
Staring at her own image was not something she enjoyed. It was a stark reminder of what she had given up with no regard of the consequences.
It had been a week since they switched places and the novelty had soon worn off. Seeing as her reflection seemed in such a good mood, she decided to be brave.
“I don't think this is going to work anymore.”
Smiling sweetly, her reflection feigned confusion. “What's not going to work anymore?”
Leighton swallowed the fear rising in the back of her throat. “Erm...this situation.”
Slowly rising from the bed her reflection sauntered to the mirror her blue eyes darkening like clouds before the eruption of a great storm.
“And what situation is that?”
Leighton hated her reflection. Hated herself even more and worst of all this was all her own stupid fault. She was trapped on the other side of the mirror.
'Within the Mirror the Soul reflects, through eyes that shall not lie,
For those whose hearts are cold as stone are always doomed to die.
Within the Mirror the Soul reflects, through eyes now drenched with sorrow,
Tears may fall for yesteryears and all those lost tomorrows.
A heart grown cold will never know, what grace does lie ahead,
For a soul that's never loved before is already the wandering dead...
Chapter One: The Mirror
Leighton shuddered awake the poem still fresh in her mind. Sitting up slowly she was relieved to see that her reflection still slept. It was a strange feeling looking at herself sleep, though it wasn't really her that slept. It was something else.
Tired and exhausted she brought her knees up resting her arms across them. Lowering her chin to her hands Leighton sobbed gently. It would find this amusing; her tears were something that fascinated her reflection greatly.
The words of the poems tormented her restless dreams; they were from the old woman's journal that Leighton had found at the run down house her dad was clearing out. For a small price he had bought the house contents to refurbish for his second hand store 'Mathews Second Helpings'.
John Mathews eventually hoped to add daughter or son but neither of his children were interested in the refurbishment of old furniture. Leighton's brother thirteen year old James was determined to be a policeman though Leighton was adamant he was more suitable to be a criminal mastermind as he was quite excellent at cheating and lying.
Scribbled in the journal were mostly morbid rhymes bizarrely written backwards and strange drawings of beings shrouded in smoky darkness their claw like hands reaching out from black tendrils of smoke. The images held an element of fear that immediately imprinted on her brain; Leighton had not lingered on the page.
Whilst flicking through the aged paper a piece of card had come lose, gently shaking it free she saw it was a black and white photograph of two identical girls standing side by side. On the back written in faded ink and in the same handwriting was, 'Miss Mauralia & Miss Roseline 1925 aged 15', the same age as her. Neither of the girls looked happy. One looked almost afraid.
Soft snores told her that her reflection still slept peacefully. It had been a silly wish, even now Leighton still struggled to believe this was happening, that this was really some twisted reality that her over imaginative brain had conjured up to entertain her self pity.
It had begun with the Mirror in the old lady's bedroom. An antiquated brass mirror hung on the wall in the darkened room, for a split second she could of swore something moved within the mirror but as it was only herself in the room she dismissed her silly imagination.
When Leighton had gone to try and open the thick heavy set curtains to let some light into the musty old room she had found them woven tightly together. Her dad explained the woman had been agoraphobic, which was why the whole house was so dark. Old and frail the authorities fearing for the old lady's sanity had removed her from the house and she was now living in a care home.
It had only took several hours to load up the contents of the house that had any value to it but still Leighton had been worn out as though the energy was being drawn from her, she had dismissed again her over imaginative imagination and continued to help her dad load up insisting he take the journals that maybe they could send them over to the care home. Leighton was curious about the old woman and the journals intrigued her, she had found it quite sad that this woman had lived all alone with fear in such a dark foreboding house and all that was to show off her possessions were now packed into cardboard boxes.
It was on the drive home that Leighton asked if she could have the Mirror, she had seen her dad's quandary as once it was cleaned up would fetch quite a bit at an auction. She had feigned a renewed interest in the refurbishment business and promised to help out some Saturdays without payment. That had clinched the deal.
Alone in her room she had sat curled up on her bed quickly writing up the history homework that she had been putting off when she heard what sounded like her wardrobe door opening and her drawers sliding back and forth on their hinges. There was no one else in her room and the wardrobes and drawers were completely still. But she could hear someone moving around in her room. Feeling freaked out as her heart pumped the blood around her veins causing a whirring noise to pulse in her inner ears.
“Hello!” she said her voice strained. The rummaging noises stopped.
The loose floorboard where she kept her diary hidden away from James creaked and she held her breath.
“Hello, you have a nice room though your garments are a little strange!”
Leighton had screamed and bolted for the door but the handle wouldn't budge sending her into sheer panic.
“Oh please get a grip child.”
Shaking the door handle with all her might Leighton thought her heart was going to explode inside her chest.
“Look if you stop these hysterics then I'll let go of the door handle!”
“Are you a ghost?” Leighton had asked terrified of the answer.
“No I am not,” responded the voice slightly annoyed. “But if you don't calm down you shall not be granted your wish.”
Letting go of the door handle in shock, she saw it turn and open then close again. No one was there; she was talking to a ghost. Ghosts don't give wishes! Do they?
Leighton remembered how foolishly ignorant she had been or maybe she had been desperate and it knew exactly what to say.
Slowly she had backed away from the door. Catching her reflection in the Mirror she saw herself smile. Her reflection gave a little wave and Leighton's mouth must have dropped open in shock because the moisture from her throat evaporated rather quickly.
“I'm dreaming.” she had said aloud convincing herself that this was all in her tired mind.
A slow chuckle filled the room.
“No you’re not.”
Looking in the Mirror Leighton saw the wardrobe door open and the clothes half hanging out the drawers. “How is this possible?” she had asked curiously drawn towards the Mirror. Naively she listened as her reflection drew her in.
The magic word had been said and all the warning signals that blazed brightly in her mind seemed to distinguish like a power cut to her sub consciousness.
“What wish will you grant?”
Leighton recalled the sly smile that slipped across her reflections lips. She thought about all the other questions she should have asked instead, like why the hell was her reflection talking to her. But she hadn't thought; all she had wanted to know was what she could gain.
“Freedom is yours if you wish.”
Confusion befuddled her mind, her reflection smiled; the look had been kind and warm. Maybe if she had looked closer she might have seen a hint of the deception that It had planned.
“I would like more freedom.”
Her reflection had smiled encouragingly.
“To do what I want when I want.”
Leighton couldn't describe the feeling of excitement that had surged through her body. Thinking about it now, it was more likely her reflections excitement that she had felt.
“Take my hand and your wish will be granted.”
And that was when she had thrown away her existence.
Reaching through the Mirror her hand had passed through the glass like it was water. Taking hold of her reflections hand they stepped into each other’s world like crossing a bridge. A strange feeling of vertigo hit her and Leighton had fallen to the floor. Darkness swooped quickly and the sound of laughter faded with her sight.
Sitting on her reflective bed her tears now dried upon her cheeks Leighton felt the wariness of her tired body. Laying back down the quilt did little to force out the cold that penetrated deep within her soul, 'her lost soul' she thought sadly as her heavy lids closed and sleep finally took her blissfully away.
Chapter Two: Glass Prison
Morning arrived with the sounds of accusations flying in the air. Leighton could hear the argument between James and her reflection was now in full force, any minute mums aggravated tone would pulverise the ear drums of all in the near vicinity. She supposed that her reflection was certainly keeping things authentic in the relationship of herself and brother or maybe James was just annoying to everyone unfortunate enough to share his company.
Rubbing her aching eyes roughly, she blinked away the kaleidoscope of shapes and colours that appeared in her vision before stretching her stiff muscles as far as her spine would allow without serious injury. Leighton had not heard her reflection rise this morning. Sleep had not been peaceful; exhaustion in the early hours of the morning had swallowed her whole, thoughts of the old woman disturbing her already strained mind.
Going to the mirror she looked out her glass prison and sighed. The bedroom door remained closed as it always did; the warning of being lost into oblivion if she tried to leave was something that was repeated quite regularly. Leighton had tried the door the first opportunity that presented itself but her reflection locked the door without fail.
Footsteps pounded up the stairs as her reflection all flustered and angry charged into the bedroom. The door was left wide open. Distracted and muttering curses that would have her grounded for a month if her mum heard, her reflection searched the room.
Leighton decided to keep quiet and not ask what she was looking for. She could see the landing; no black holes loomed ready to swallow her up. Trying to be subtle she glanced around and slowly moved to the door in her bedroom of reflection. It seemed bizarre to look out and everything be on the opposite side. She had grown use to her bedroom being the other way round now that it almost seemed normal except for the big fact she was trapped.
The door beckoned her closer. Her reflection was distracted. She could make a run for it. A heavy weight filled her bones. And go where she thought sadly. No one could hear her, she had screamed at the top of her lungs when she had realised that her reflection had tricked her, no one heard her pleas only the dog had barked but Beau always barked. A sudden thought occurred to her what if Beau had heard her shouting.
“I do hope that enthusiastic expression is not aimed at a silly escape plan?”
Leighton jumped. Her reflection stood with her nose almost pressed against the glass of the mirror her eyes barely containing the rage that threatened to spill over and drown Leighton.
“I..I..er no I was just...looking.” Leighton hated the sound of defeat in her voice. Even if the dog did hear her, what could he do? He was just a dog.
“Good.” said her reflection simply, all rage evaporated like rain under hot sunshine.
The sudden smile from her reflection was so unnerving that Leighton didn't want to keep eye contact, she felt a tell tale twitch niggle at her eyelid; something she did when she felt nervous. Trying to act casual she sat upon her bed breaking away from the piercing glare that seemed to penetrate into her mind.
“What were you looking for?” she asked politely.
Her reflection glared accusingly and Leighton instantly regretted speaking.
“My diary?” said Leighton in surprise and recovered quickly enough not to glance at the loose floorboard that her reflection was standing on.
“Yes, as I said my diary!”
Sarcasm dripped teasingly from her reflections lips but Leighton wisely chose to ignore it. The anger was too apparent in her reflection eyes and she was certainly not in a position to aggravate It further. Not if she wanted to get her life back. And that was what she intended to do.
“What exactly do you need my diary for?”
Her reflection repeated the sentence in a whiny mimic trying to bate a response. Leighton held strong and remained silent, waiting patiently. A thunderous scream of her name made her jump.
In a blazing fury James burst into the room charging straight at Leighton shoving hard.
Leighton watched with a mixture of horrified pleasure as her reflection went crashing to the floor shock and pain spreading across its face.
“You ever set me up like that again Leigh and I swear I'll show mum and dad what crap you write about in that bloody diary of yours!”
Having angered James many times Leighton knew pissed off but the look that was in her brothers eyes was pure hatred and hurt. She could see the skin around his eyes was all puffy and swollen from where he had rubbed them dry. His laboured breathing told her that this wasn't over. Her reflection flinched slightly as James stepped closer fist clenched. Leighton couldn't help but feel a small leap of satisfaction at the flicker of fear that flashed in her reflections eyes before the look of irritation returned.
James looked like he was going to say something more but their mums voice called out for them to get a move on. As fast as he came into the room he was gone. Moving closer to the mirror Leighton pressed her fingertips to the cold glass.
“What have you done to my brother?” she snapped as a slow burning fury uncurled in her stomach. No one but her was allowed to torment James that was the unspoken rule of sibling law.
A sly smile stretched across the reflections face as it stood up straightening the dishevelled school uniform. “I was merely playing my part in this role of yours.”
Curling her fingernails into her palms Leighton rested her fists against the mirror resisting the urge to pound the glass and break free. “What do you mean? What did you do to him?”
“I may have spilt my drink on his bed sheets.”
Pour James thought Leighton horrified. No wonder he hated her; or the thing that was playing at being her. James had suffered night terrors as a small child and would often wet the bed. Even though he no longer suffered any mishaps it was still a sensitive issue. Many times she had helped him change the bed and hide it in the laundry. Their mum knew the routine but was happy to let James believe she was unaware if it helped ease his embarrassment. Leighton had never used it against him; until now.
With a burst of laughter her reflection disappeared out the door shutting it firmly behind. A few seconds passed before she realised she had not heard the tormenting click of the lock!
Chapter Three: Open Doors
Alone with her thoughts now that the house was empty Leighton wished the voice in her head would quiet down. It seemed so loud against the back drop of the soft rhythmic ticking of the backward clock that she wanted to stick her fingers in her ears; but as she found out before that just magnified the screams that she wasn't doing anything to help herself out this insane situation she had stepped into.
Beau growled low in the back of his throat the sounds of the outside world captivating his attention. It was bizarre what you noticed when there was nothing else to do with your time. Everything had a routine, birds singing, alarms beeping or the mad morning dash for the bathroom and the curses that follow when toilet seats aren't put up or down. Dad’s remarkable ability to grab the paper from the letterbox before the dog can rip it to shreds. Mum telling them to hurry up and eat their breakfast then moaning that their not chewing the food properly. Leighton could put all the pictures to the noises she heard each day. It had all seemed so boring and unimportant once, now it was something she was determined to get back.
Hearing the front gate swing open and an excitable bark announced the arrival of the post man. Mail was shoved with lightening speed through the letterbox by skilled fingers nimble at dodging canine teeth followed by a satisfied muffled bark as the envelopes were successfully mauled.
Resting her hand on the unlocked door fear and apprehension kept her from turning the handle to freedom. A sudden wave of sadness swamped her initial excitement, she let go and went to the window. The sun was shining brightly today, hearing Beau bark again she smiled it was a shame she couldn't take him out, she missed it. Leighton smiled sadly to herself she actually hated walking the dog, but right now it was something she would love to do now. A steely determination filling her bones she took a deep breath and shouted as loud as she could.
Beau howled in anticipation to jumping over the pet gate and bounding up the stairs. Scratching at the door impatient to get in he cried pitifully.
Returning to the door her hand shook as it gripped the handle tight, a quick turn and the door sprang open. A gust of energy sent her sprawling to the floor, Leighton sat confused, she could hear Beau barking but couldn't see him. Looking back at the mirror she saw his big wet nose sniffing wildly at her through the glass. Scrambling to her feet she headed quickly to the mirror, as she did Beau's reflection appeared next to her, mimicking his every move.
Gently Leighton touched his fur and marvelled that it felt exactly the same as the real thing. Beau must have felt the vibrations of the caress; as he dropped to the floor showing his stomach. Laughing Leighton knelt down and gave the reflections belly a rub. With her suddenly out of his sight Beau jumped up searching for her which caused the reflection to do the same sending Leighton falling to her bottom again.
Feeling guilty for the confusion the dog must feel Leighton got quickly to her feet. “Sorry boy, this is messing with my head too!
Nervously Leighton stepped onto the landing to find Beau had disappeared. Confused she quickly looked back at the mirror in the bedroom and could see Beau waiting at the bedroom door. When he saw her he barked again.
“Of course!” she thought, it made sense now. Coming onto the landing again she called out to the dog and could hear him beside her even though she couldn't see him. Reaching half way down the stairs she looked into the decorative mirror that hung on the landing, she saw Beau the reflection wagging his tale on the stairs next to her and the real Beau through the mirror. His reflection could only be seen by her when there was a mirror nearby, which must mean that she could be seen too in another mirror! That was why her reflection didn't want her leaving the bedroom because she would be seen by her family.
Heading downstairs Beau followed after her disappearing and reappearing depending on where there was reflection. It was quite disturbing that she tried not to think about it too much, her head was beginning to pound as her brain tried to make sense of the mixed signals her eyes were sending it.
Tentatively moving to the front door Leighton took a deep breath letting it out slowly as she focused on the door handle. Giving it a turn she found it locked. 'Stupid! Of course it would be locked!' The spare keys were kept in mum’s desk. Hoping and praying that this would work she pulled at the drawers and gasped joyfully when they opened. She hadn't been sure if she would be like a ghost in this world and not be able to touch anything but she had felt Beau's reflection and he had been as solid to touch as the real Beau. Grabbing the keys they jangled noisily in her hand, returning to the front door she willed her shaking hands to steady as she placed the key in the lock. At the sound of clicking metal Leighton felt a rush of relief.
Fresh air washed over her warm cheeks, the sun shone brightly that Leighton took as second to enjoy the feel of it on her face. Closing her eyes the sound of the birds singing over head soothed away the weariness that loomed over her like a black cloud. She was free.
Beau barked somewhere nearby and Leighton laughed out loud for the first time in weeks. “I agree boy this is wonderful.”
Getting the dog back inside wasn't an easy challenge as Leighton soon discovered. Not being able to see him hindered any chance of manoeuvring him inside. Picking up a tennis ball from the garden she shook it around in the air until she felt something sniff playfully at her hands, throwing the ball back into the kitchen and hearing the excited dash that followed she quickly shut and locked the door. Beau's cries could be heard through the glass. Whispering her apologises Leighton tucked the keys safely into her jeans and made her way down the street.
It seemed so strange everything being the opposite side of what she was use to. Birds sang joyfully their high pitched tweets picking up Leighton's pace as she walked along the streets so familiar and yet so foreign. Hurrying along the pavements she rounded a corner and gasped as Mr Harbour one of the neighbours from a few doors way appeared out of nowhere skimming her arm as her pasted her by. Looking directly at her Leighton held her breath in hope, a quick confused shake of his head and Mr Harbour was gone disappearing from view, his reflection lost to her sight.
Standing there lost in the moment Leighton pushed away the disappointment treading slowly into the street, her mind whirled like a cyclone as she saw more people random appearing and disappearing. Vibrations from the honks of cars horns as buses took up road space reached her ears, the aggravated chatter dancing in the air from strangers desperate to be on their way.
A dog ran past her feet snapping at a cat that caught its attention, she watched as they vanished and appeared as their reflections were captured like a Polaroid picture, the scene stretching before her like an old fashioned Cinematograph film, the flickering images made her feel nauseous.
Reaching out for the wall behind her Leighton felt some relief from its solid mass, dizzy from all the activity she leant against the brick work taking a strange comfort from the pain as she slid down the wall. All around her the buzz from the world she had lost from her grasp stung like a thousand bees. Strangers reflections all oblivious to the falling tears of the distraught girl that sat on the ground her knees pulled tightly to her chest passing her by like she was invisible. 'I am invisible' she thought sadly.
Several precious minutes had passed; reflections of passers-by were like gentle gusts of winds as she slowly got to her feet her decision made. Knowing it was foolish and dangerous only spurred Leighton on; she needed to see It.
Wiping away tears with her sleeve she walked focusing on the path ahead. Leighton took a deep breath, It was destroying her slowly, this monstrous torture that she had brought on herself with her own ignorance had to stop. She needed to find a way back home but to do that she needed to know more.
In the distant the grey building looked like some monstrous Tombstone. Leighton had always hated school and now tried to recall why? She was never bullied physically but sometimes emotions cut deeper than a fist. The bullies had soon grown bored when she didn't react to their taunts, fearful of wasting their energy on somebody insignificant she was left alone.
Leighton stood pressed up against the wall of the main hallway, the familiarity brought no comfort. Like a graveyard of shadows the reflections of students from Harlen School moved about the daily routines. With the school bell announcing dinner she followed the crowds into the dinner hall finding what she was looking for. Herself.
Surrounded by an adoring crowd Leighton's reflection was laughing wickedly at something Lucas Wilkinson had just whispered into her ear. Coldness crept over her body as she saw the way people were looking at her or It. Adoration beamed from eyes now being privileged with the whispered secret. An eruption of caustic giggles rippled around the group falling prey on its unfortunate victim, hiding unsuccessfully behind the ginger hair that was the source of ridicule.
Leighton saw the tears glisten in Martha Grittle sea green eyes before dropping her head her fringe creating a weak shield for her emotions. 'Poor Martha'.
Laughter welled up, overflowing like some acidic water fountain eroding all in its path. Feeling the pain of one of her oldest friends Leighton cringed at the betraying words coming from her lips. Secrets of a trusted friendship laid bare for the amusement of a callous audience.
'How could It know? Could her reflection read her mind?' Fear grasped tightly at her chest. 'What if It could sense her now!' Feeling suddenly visible Leighton held her breath waiting to be seen.
Someone howled with hysterics as Martha dashed from the room, her shield unable to hide the floodgates of tears that spilled down her face. Leighton watched her reflection smile slowly, the look chilling her blood. 'The mirrors!' She had forgotten about the mirrors. With every step she made her heart pounded louder in her ears until eventually it was all she could hear. Moving back into the hallway Leighton thought of Martha. Friends from primary school, they had both remained close sharing heartaches and secrets, one of those being how much Martha fancied Lucas Wilkinson. 'What had she done to her dear friend? The hate. The hurt she saw flash in her eyes as she ran from the room; the most important treasured secret revealed to be shredded like waste paper and recycled again to cause more pain'. Not wanting to see any more she left.
Walking along with no destination in mind she felt like a piece of her soul had been ripped from her, chewed up and spat out to be trampled on till nothing remained. Across the path that led to the park Leighton marvelled at the random flights of birds. Their random criss-cross of flight in the warm afternoon sun was hypnotic. As the days sunshine warmed her skin it dawned on her how she could feel anything at all, how could a land of reflection feel anything? She asked herself as she reached for a rose bush bending down to smell the petals inhaling the sweet scent. Glancing around the park Leighton went and sat on the wooden bench dedicated to some stranger whose name she had passed on the other side many times but never stopped to read. Getting use to reading backwards had taken some getting use to but slowly Leighton ran her finger across the metal plaque where deep grooves had gorged out the name.
‘…....a beloved Son and brother, Forever missed x'
Did the family still come and sit on the other side to be close to their loved one. Thoughts of her own family caused a lump to form in her throat, so near yet so far out of her reach. Breathing in deeply the crisp aromas of cherry blossom that stretched out amongst the sea of lavender that grew furiously in the park Leighton sighed, 'Why had she not noticed these things before?'
Aware that time was ticking by she got to her feet noticing a dark haired boy across the street. Leighton studied him curiously. He was staring straight at her. Not vanishing like the shadows around her. A rush of nervous apprehension filled her stomach. 'He can see me!'
“Hello!” she called in desperation and waved at him furiously, in any normal circumstances she would have been mortified at her behaviour, the boy was extremely handsome and smiled lazily back at her before turning in the opposite direction.
A bubble of excitement burst into her blood stream fuelling her strength. “Wait! Please.” she begged but the boy carried on down the street his pace seeming to grow faster. With a surge of adrenaline pumping wildly around her body Leighton ran across the streets dodging the reflections of road traffic, out of breath and her heart pounding so hard in her chest that she feared for a second she was having a heart attack Leighton reached the corner the boy had turned down. He was gone, disappearing like the others. Bitter sobs welled up and spilled blinding her view. She had been so sure he had seen her, like a shadow out the corner of her eye she had seen him smile at her.
Heaviness crept into her bones. Like a snake coils around its prey squeezing the breath slowly out of its victim Leighton to felt like she was trapped and unable to move, waiting for that last breath to leave her body she fell to the floor unable to breath. Darkness enveloped her in a thick blanket taking her blissfully away.